Posted by: R!P | March 22, 2012

The Wind up Bird Chronicle

Imagine a dark room, singularly dark, with a single door exit. A blind-folded man walks around the room, groping at the wall with his hand. He keeps walking along the wall, in a hope to reach the door. On the other side of the room, sits a dog on a short leash, his tail protruding inside the room through the door. As the blind-folded man reaches near the door, he steps on the dog’s tail. The dog cannot turn, nor can it run. It squeals and yelps. The blind-folded man, startled, takes its hand off the wall, steps away and misses the door, yet again.

The wind-up bird chronicle makes you feel like that man, and at times like that dog. The narrator is sitting on a pile of emotions – with a dysfunctional marriage, a lost cat, a lolita-attraction, repressed hatred, a black mark with healing powers, psychic sisters – Malta and Creta Kano, a war-infested counsellor’s friend and metaphysical violence. His blind-ness is innate and complete. As a household husband to a dis-interested wife with a family history of violence and demise, his immediate surroundings are dim and dark. His particular affection to May Kasahara and Psychic Kano sisters, and later the well’s dark ambience reflects on a self-search – manifested, to some extent through a lost cat. The characters stream in and out, in an effort to defy the narrator, and keep him away from the “door”. The wife Kumiko, The neighbour May Kasahara, The Lieutenant, Nutmeg and her son, all well-etched characters in an effort to define the narrator. The setting is vivid and dull at the same time. The ethos of characters are shifting and rigid in turn. I, in particular liked the Manchukao war descriptions and May Kasahara’s letters. There is a genuine reality in hard-boiled fiction, which is hard to miss.

This was my first Murakami book, but for certain not the last one.

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